Saturday, September 28, 2013

Chocolate-Hazelnut Track Bread - Blue Monday

This easy to make quick bread is a perfect accompaniment to coffee and it makes a lovely addition to a breakfast or brunch table. It's a perfect example of what James Beard called a "track" bread. In his parlance, any bread that had a traceable filling was called a track bread. While his cookbooks have numerous example of them, all delicious I might add, today's recipe comes from Taste of Home magazine. This bread is filled with hazelnuts and chocolate and it really is quite lovely. I chose it because of its hazelnut track. Hazelnuts are also called filberts but the extension services here in the Willamette Valley prefer to call them hazelnuts. While Oregon produces 98 percent of the hazelnuts grown in the United States, that amounts to only 3 percent of the world's supply. That means that Turkey, Spain and Italy are actually the world's major suppliers. Hazelnuts are not widely popular in the United State. They are more expensive then other nuts and they have a reputation for being difficult to skin. Actually, it's not all that difficult to rid them of their pesky covering. The traditional method involves roasting the hazelnuts for about 10 minutes in a moderately hot oven. The nuts are then wrapped in a clean towel and rubbed until most of the skin comes off. A newer, easier method suggests boiling the nuts for 4 minutes in a quart of water to which 1/4 cup baking soda has been added. The nuts are them rinsed in cold water which will cause the skins to pop off. Once the skins are removed, the hazelnuts are roasted until they are lightly brown. Then there is my way. I pay a premium and buy my hazelnuts already skinned. Truth be told, I've been known to buy them already chopped as well. I really like this bread and I think you will too. Here's the recipe.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Track Bread


1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream


1/3 cup finely chopped hazelnuts

1/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

3 tablespoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Set aside.

2) In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in extracts. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. Batter will be thick.

3) Spoon half of batter into prepared loaf pan. Combine topping ingredients; sprinkle two-thirds of topping over batter. Top with remaining batter. Sprinkle with remaining topping; press down lightly.

4) Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Yield: 1 loaf (12 slices).

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